A KINK IN VAN HALEN’S “YOU REALLY GOT ME”
I could have sworn that when I was a kid I read somewhere that The Kinks had no problem with Van Halen’s cover of “You Really Got Me,” and, in fact, thought it superior to their own version. But I can’t remember where I read it (I’m assuming a full-color glossy crap magazine), I can’t find the quote online, and it was probably all propaganda, the way pretty much everything in magazines like Hit Parader and Circus was propaganda. (And the Gerri Miller years of Metal Edge weren’t exactly a bastion of journalistic integrity, either.)
And so here we are, decades after the fact, and The Kinks’ Dave Davies is bitching about the cover, telling Classic Rock that “I’m sure Eddie Van Halen played better when he was drunk,” and that VH’s version of the song “was very Middle America. It was like, ‘Hey man, look at me with my tight trousers! Here’s our version of You Really Got Me!’”
And if you’re wondering what crawled up Davies’ ass, well, the next part of his quote is actually very telling:
“There’s the thing: good art isn’t always about having the comfiest technique. I shouldn’t encourage him, but I’m sure Eddie Van Halen played better when he was drunk. But it must be a good record if people like it.
“We got pissed off though, when we played America. The Kinks had an album out called Low Budget  and we ended up touring and playing stadiums. Some kid came up to me after one of the gigs and said: ‘I like your cover of Van Halen’s You Really Got Me.’ You have to smile sometimes.”
So as much as I love the The Kinks, it seems to me that there are really two issues here: 1) Davies is jealous of all the attention EVH has rightfully received over the years for being a brilliant, revolutionary, incredibly influential guitar player, and 2) he’s pissed ’cause some idiots don’t realize the song is cover. I mean, he says “you have to smile sometimes,” but he’s not smiling — he’s unnecessarily slamming Van Halen.
A better way — or I guess I should say a “glass half-full way” — to look at this would be for Davies to say, “Yeah, Eddie Van Halen is a great guitar player, and I’m glad that I probably have some fans I might not have had otherwise because of Van Halen’s cover of the song.” ‘Cause I gotta tell you, when I was a kid, I didn’t know who The Kinks were prior to Van Halen. I sought out The Kinks because of Van Halen. Maybe that makes me guilty of being born too late (which was obviously totally beyond my control), but, really, Davies should just be thanking EVH for the extra album sales.
Thanks to our pal Dave for the tip!